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December 26, 2016



Dreaded commander among 13 militants to be executed

Fata Diary


PESHAWAR: Young Pakistani militant commander Latifullah Mahsud is set to be executed soon as he is among the 13 militants whose death sentences were recently confirmed by Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

They were held responsible for heinous offences related to terrorism, including killing and slaughtering of innocent civilians and security personnel.

Among them were militants stated to be involved in attacking the Bacha Khan University in Charsadda, Parade Lane Mosque in Rawalpindi, Marriot Hotel Islamabad, the office of World Vision NGO in Mansehra and an educational institution in Nawagai area in Buner district.

The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said in a statement that these militants were involved in the killing of 325 people and injuring 366 others.

Latifullah Mehsud was top of the list, but there were no specific charges against him. He was stated to be involved in the killing of 150 innocent civilians and attacking members of the law-enforcement agencies.

Latifullah Mehsud was young when he quit education and joined the ranks of the Mahsud Taliban headed by Baitullah Mahsud in his native South Waziristan.

Baitullah Mahsud soon added him to his personal security squad.

Hakimullah Mehsud was chosen the head of the outlawed Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) when Baitullah Mahsud was killed in US drone strike in Zangara village in South Waziristan on August 5, 2009.

Latifullah Mahsud was then included in security squad of Hakimullah Mahsud. He also selected him his special assistant and representative for dealing with all commanders and militant outfits.

He was soon known as the “frontman” of Hakimullah Mahsud and there was a time when none of the TTP leaders were able to meet Hakimullah without his help.

Though Sheharyar Mahsud was deputy to Hakimullah, Latifullah Mahsud had great influence over the TTP leader and there were reports that he had declared him his second-in-command.

There were different stories about Latifullah’s capture by the US forces in Afghanistan.

Some members of the Pakistani Taliban insisted that he had gone to Khost province to a place near Ghulam Khan for a meeting with the Afghan security officials to negotiate exchange of Afghan soldiers.

Pakistani Taliban initially denied his arrest as he was reportedly travelling in the escort of the Afghan security forces.

However, Marie Harf, deputy spokesperson for the US State Department at the time confirmed in a news briefing in Washington that US forces had captured the TTP commander in a military operation.

Arsala Jamal, the then governor of Logar province in eastern Afghanistan who was later assassinated in a bomb blast in a mosque on Eid day, told media that US troops seized Latifullah Mahsud from the main highway in Mohammad Agha district, 35 kilometers from the Afghan capital, on October 5, 2013.

There were reports that Latifullah Mehsud was traveling in a convoy of the Afghan security forces when the US troops took him into custody.

He was later shifted to the US Bagram airbase.

Some Pakistani militants later told The News that Latifullah Mahsud was travelling to Kunar and was carrying an important message of Hakimullah Mahsud for Maulana Fazlullah Khorasani and Maulvi Omar Khalid Khorasani, leaders of Swat Taliban and Mohmand Agency, respectively.

The Taliban claimed that Latifullah Mahsud sought assistance from some members of the Afghan parliament belonging to Hezb-e-Islami and certain agents of Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security (NDS) for his safe transportation to Kunar.

“Latif had good terms with Hezb-i-Islami parliamentarians and some NDS officials. They were taking him in their motorcade when US forces intercepted the convoy and snatched Latifullah from them,” said a senior Pakistani militant commander.

He said they suspected people from Hezb-i-Islami of being behind his arrest but the party denied its involvement.

He said besides Latifullah Mahsud, two tribesmen, including one Arafat, were also travelling with him when they were captured.

According to him, Arafat was a resident of North Waziristan but was not a militant and had a motor bargain business in Miranshah bazaar.

In December 2014 when US military in Afghanistan delivered Latifullah Mahsud to Pakistani military authorities, Arafat and another man, Jaffar were with him.

Three of them were airlifted in a military helicopter and brought to Pakistan.

Arafat included in the list of 13 militants, whose death sentences were confirmed by Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa.

He was stated to be involved in the attack on Marriot Hotel in Islamabad and Parade Lane Mosque in Rawalpindi that caused the deaths of 110 people.

Taliban sources said that Hakimullah had given free hand to Latifullah Mahsud and allowed him to handle important issues on his behalf.

There were reports that Latifullah Mahsud personally handled high-profile kidnapping in Pakistan and led a team responsible for collecting extortion from people of all walks of life in the country.

Senior Taliban members claimed it was Latifullah Mahsud who created and strengthened TTP in Karachi and Balochistan.

“He developed contacts with the Baloch insurgent groups and assured them of all help in getting their rights but asked them not to talk about the division of Pakistan. All the Pakistani Taliban opposed government’s policies but they strongly opposed efforts leading to Pakistan’s division,” a senior Taliban member said.

Hakimullah was killed in US drone strike in 2013 in Miranshah and his group split into factions after his younger brother Ijaz Mehsud surrendered to the government along with 60 other militants.